National Institute of Nutrition Deputy Director Nguyen Thi Lam revealed the figures at a seminar in Hanoi on September 28, saying Vietnam’s malnutrition rate is much higher than in other countries in the region.
2012’s National Institute of Nutrition statistics show one in every five Vietnamese children under five is underweight and one in every three has stunted growth.
Lam said malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies impact children’s height, skeletal development, general health and wellbeing, and learning capacity.
Vietnam Paediatrics Association Deputy President Prof. Nguyen Gia Khanh described how rather than being determined by genetics alone, around 80% of a child’s height is decided by nutrition, physical activity, and the environment.
Prof. Khanh noted probiotics and beneficial bacteria can help children absorb food nutrients and aid digestion.
Lam warned a three-year-old child suffering stunted growth risks underdevelopment when fully mature. Better nutrition can raise national height averages, she said.
She urged parents to give children foods rich in vitamin A, D, iron, calcium, and zinc, such as eggs, eel, liver, cereals, and milk.